Fashion Observed

Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...

by Darryl S. Warren  

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A pologies are in order for making you, the loyal follower and dear reader, wait this long.

You will hear many laments of the shift happening in fashion regarding convention, the fashion calendar and structure. If it helps any, this blog has to adapt as well. Whereas the former plan was to post articles between calendar seasons, that is now impossible, and until extraneous circumstances change (don't ask!), this blog has no choice but to stick with the periodical release of articles. Speaking of which, at the time this article was conceived (really, this a the next few all came about in mid January), both Prefall 2020 and the beginnings of Fall Winter 2020/2021 were being released with momentum has now breezed through a nice chunk of Fall Winter 2020/2021 (and watching Spring Summer 2020 Haute Couture pass through as well) with no breathing room as the offerings for both seasons came right on the heels of Spring Summer. Fashion is no longer in blocks of time but, rather, in rivers of streaming creativity. And there is no point in boring you with the personal aspects that added to the delay. Suffice to say, we all have life in the way and it requires adaptation. But things have definitely become more fluid and organic and we just have to go with the flow.

Funny to use those terms. Ever since the early start of this millennium, the organic influence has remained in various incarnations. Be it the merging of tech with bio influences to Art Nouveau retro design upgrades to environmental design empathy, we have seen the natural continuously on our minds and, as a result, influencing our design. But as opposed to this being a trend, nature's beauty and complexity is finding a deeper and more lasting appreciation that has translated into a longer mainstay as a cultural influence, with all these aspects being continuous in our design expression. Perhaps this is how our mindset is adapting to design evolution as opposed to the older consumption models where newness was mandatory. It still has a place, especially as our technology has trained us to trim our attention spans as our mind catches up to the speed of progress.

The appreciation of the natural world, faced with threats due to our own progress, comes as no surprise. is it not natural to focus on something when it is made rarer? Yes, nature is abundant but it is under threat in real time, with media documenting every loss vividly, and such threats translate as loss, which triggers a raise in its value. And given that Australia has been practically on fire since the new year after witnessing many parts of the Northern Hemisphere burning uncontrollably the season before, it's hard not to notice.

But what is nature without contrast? For every curved line and fluid form we have sharp edges and crisp geometry. Each acts as a facet of ourselves. To choose is not fair, nor, in an age of diversity, necessary. We can have it all, and fashion does oblige. So, whereas in the past there would be a proliferation of one style direction over another, we are growing accustomed to multiple offerings to fit a global market that has been supporting individuality and customization for some time. Diversity is no longer in a few rigid choices, but in ranges reflecting nature itself. What is noticed through all this is part of the growth as we grow comfortable with our new century. History has shown that it takes a few decades before we settle into a general theme for each century. Technology is offering a few things. Once quality is choice, which supports variety. Another is diversity, a result of a demand for more choice. And the other aspect is the technology supporting intricacy and precision, which lends to greater variation of the other two. And, from this, we get the right climate to support a platform of experimentation which, lucky you, is found across the seasons from Spring Summer 2020...through Prefall Fall Winter 2020. In this case, we have the search for the shape of our century, and thus the experimentation comes with form. So, in some cases we see the languid and natural within SS2020 collections from A-Jane (here), Ann Demeulemeester (here), Atlein (here [first pic], and here), Balenciaga (here), Bareskin Clothing (here and here), CDLM (here), Cong Tri (here), Christian Wijnants (here and here), Giada (here), Haider Ackermann (here), Issey Miyake (here), J. W. Anderson (here), Lanvin (here), Mad Recital (here), Marine Serre (here), Marta Jakubowski (here), Masha Ma (here), Monse (here), Moo Hong (here and here), Nina Ricci (here), Pyer Moss (here), Redemption (here), Sacai(here and here), Sies Marjan (here), Stella McCartney (here), threeASFOUR (here), Ying Pei Studio (here) and Y Project (here); at Prefall 2020 collections from Agnona (here), Joseph (here), Marchesa (here), Monse (here and here) and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi (here and here); and continues to be present in FW2020/21 collections from Beaufille (here), Kaarem (here) and Toni Maticevski (here). And, conversely, the more angular, hard edged and geometric expressions that precision and technical execution were found at SS2020 collections from A-Jane (here and here), Ann Demeulemeester (here), Balmain (here and here), Burberry (here), Creatures of The Wind (here), Eckhaus Latta (here), Peter Do (here) and Yohji Yamamoto (here and here), continued at Prefall 2020 as seen at Joseph (here) and Nanushka (here), and, so far ( initial time of composing this article), remained present during Fall Winter 2020 at Ji Oh (here and here). Some collections contained both, as seen during SS 2020 from Elena Velez (here), Issey Miyake (here), Off-White (here), Rick Owens (here), Yan Dengyu (here) and Yohji Yamamoto (here) and at Prefall 2020 from Jil Sander (here), Monse (here and here), Phillip Lim (here) and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi (here). During that period, further exploration was in more independent pieces from Hypnographic (here), newcomer Keith Tovey (here) and Phoebe English (here) while the merging of organic (either literal or representational in the randomness) and modernity (in the technical execution, precise geometry of materials and cuts, or the stark contrast of process) came across other more clever incarnations from Noir Kei Ninomiya (here), Rhys Ellis (here), Stephanie Santos (here), Shernett Swaby (here) and threeASFOUR (here and here).

Limitations in textile innovation and construction techniques can only produce so many variations, but as we find our technology more sophisticated, fashion responds with greater room for innovation and shape utilized as the next frontier that technological innovation supports. But this is not just throwing up a new shape alone. Rather, the organic nature of design is making this more sophisticated. Some of these expression lean more to the fluid organic nature where the textile and gravity leads, and in other incarnations design is crafted to defy these very forces. And yet, they all find room in our world because the only way we can move forward is to take all into account. That is, to have the beauty that our natural world has requires us to have room for extremes, within the context of natural expression. Hard cuts and shapes can exist with natural placement, like a ramshackle arrangement of rigid geometric shapes, or precision in material assembly to honor perceived fluidity. Either way, each allows a test of new variation of form, and the appreciation of individuality itself versus a contest to see which new form becomes popular is the best illustration of our social evolution of design.

Enough on that. More to come; your patience is about to be rewarded.

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